The Marriage of Figaro

The second play in the trilogy, The Marriage of Figaro, was completed by Beaumarchais in 1784 and attracted the attention of WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART, Perhaps Mozart did not wish to replicate Paisiello’s work. In 1966, Darius Milhaud composed the opera La mère coupable (‘The Guilty Mother’), based on the third part in the trilogy. Simultaneously with The Marriage of Figaro, Beaumarchais  wrote on the same plot a libretto, entitled Tarare,  initially intended for Gluck, but since he was already in the decline of his life, the libretto went to Anthonio Salieri. Because of the plot, which satirizes aristocracy and foreshadows the French revolutionary protest, Beaumarchais’s plays were banned in France, but since the ban failed to impede them from spreading rapidly, the King allowed their productions and they underwent over a hundred consecutive performances.

Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (‘The Marriage of Figaro’) is an Italian-style opera buffo on libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, completed within less than two months and produced on 1 May 1786 at the Burgtheater in Vienna. The premiere was a relatively mediocre success, although Mozart played the harpsichord on the first two in the total of eight spectacles. The opera achieved recognition only in Prague – the composer’s favourite city, where the performance took place in December 1786.

The overture, written in the usual sonata form, does not use melodic themes from the opera proper, but masterfully ushers in the atmosphere of intrigue, lyricism and unpredictable moves. An interesting fact from the later history of The Marriage of Figaro is that Tchaikovsky had such a great appreciation for this particular Mozart masterpiece that he wrote the first Russian version of the libretto adapted for performance.

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